Controlling a condition that might be a combination of physical and mental factors is certainly no easy task. Understanding just what a panic attack is would be a good place to start. It may also help to understand what is meant by “control” in such conditions.
We have described panic attacks as situations in which we feel fear and feel that we are losing control of events (and our feelings about them). When we have a panic attack we might feel helpless. The situation is made worse because it seems to come upon us so suddenly. We also experience frustration because we can’t explain to others why we feel the way we do. Extreme episodes might even include thoughts about dying or feelings that we might die if we can’t “get out” of the situation we’re in.
It is possible to gain some control in panic-attack situations, even if we may not be able to completely control or stop episodes in the future. One of the real difficulties is that we don’t always know when the attacks will come. But we might be able to train ourselves to limit the effects by taking certain helpful steps.
Of course we can turn to a few prescription drugs that may provide some relief. These medications might give us a brief respite from the symptoms of panic attack. Some prescription medication isn’t meant to be used over a long period of time, which means that the disturbing symptoms of a panic episode usually start again when we stop taking the drugs. Not only that, but many prescription drugs come with side effects that may be as troublesome as some panic symptoms. It’s always best to consult with a trusted family physician when medication is needed.
There are a number of self-help and natural ways to gain control before and during a panic attack. Deep-breathing and other techniques are often used with the guidance of a clinical psychologist. Some counselors will help patients visualize or focus on other issues to halt the common malady of racing thoughts or negative ideas.
In recent years patients have tried a combination of methods – both natural techniques, counseling and mild medication to keep panic attacks under control. Some programs include a focus on eliminating stress by making actual changes in lifestyle and activities. These changes might be combined with better nutrition, concentrating on foods that add to a general feeling of “well-being.”
Some programs for panic control use a specific level of exercise to increase general health and well-being. In addition, we must focus on getting sufficient sleep. A proper diet for controlling attacks generally includes the correct amount of protein, vitamins and minerals, all of which may help both the brain and the body.
Perhaps the most effective move is the immediate elimination of stress. This change might include reducing the overall number of activities and commitments in our lives. There will always be some stress. It’s part of life. But controlling panic attacks must include elimination of particular things that are the source of stress.